FC Seoul scored a late equalizer to hold Guangzhou Evergrande to a 2-2 draw in the opening leg of the AFC Champions League final at home on Saturday.
At Seoul World Cup Stadium, striker Dejan Damjanovic scored the tying goal in the 82nd minute, saving the reigning K League Classic champion from the brink of a defeat.
The 2013 Asian club champion will be determined on the aggregate score after the second leg on Nov. 9 in Guangzhou.
With Guangzhou ahead 2-1 on a second-half go-ahead score by Gao Lin, Damjanovic received a cross from Sergio Escudero and took a low shot as he fell to the ground, just past the diving goalkeeper Zeng Cheng.
Both FC Seoul and Guangzhou are seeking their first AFC Champions League title. FC Seoul is the fifth consecutive South Korean club to reach the AFC final. Guangzhou is trying to win China's first Asian club title since Liaoning won the Asian Club Championship, the predecessor of the AFC Champions League, in 1990.
FC Seoul won the domestic K League Classic last year. Guangzhou secured its third consecutive Chinese Super League title earlier this month.
After the teams traded a goal apiece in the first half, Gao Lin netted the go-ahead goal for Guangzhou in the 58th minute, with a deft redirection on a Sun Xiang cross.
FC Seoul scrambled to draw even midway through the second half.
In the 65th, Dejan Damjanovic took a feed from Sergio Escudero deep in the Guangzhou zone, but goalkeeper Zeng Cheng denied the FC Seoul striker from a point blank range. Nine minutes later, fullback Choi Hyo-jin penetrated on the right wing but his hard shot went off the right side of the net.
Damjanovic finally delivered with his team-leading sixth goal of the AFC campaign, and FC Seoul fended off late Guangzhou charge to preserve the draw.
In the opening half, Escudero put the home club out in front in the 10th minute on a breakaway, fending off defender Feng Xiaoting and beating goalkeeper Zeng Cheng with a low shot.
After seeing earlier attempts thwarted by stout Seoul defense, Guangzhou attackers were on the prowl following Escudero's goal. In the 19th, Gao Lin fired one from the right side of the box, forcing goalkeeper Kim Yong-dae to make a kick save.
Six minutes later, Elkeson took a feed from Gao but volleyed one high over the net.
The visitors' efforts bore fruit in the 29th minute, when Elkeson headed in a Huang Bowen corner to even the score, as the ball bounced in front of Kim Yong-dae and floated over the head of the diving goalkeeper. It was the Brazilian striker's fifth goal in fifth AFC Champions League match.
Guangzhou began the second half with more energy before Damjanovic thwarted the visitors' hopes of an away victory.(Yonhap News)